Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (20 July) on the extension of the term of imprisonment of the Iranian women’s rights activist Saba Kord Afshari:
It fills me with great concern that the already absurdly long prison sentence of the Iranian women’s rights activist Saba Kord Afshari has now been extended without a fair trial under the rule of law. She has engaged in peaceful protest for women’s rights in Iran and against the compulsory wearing of headscarves. She has appeared without a headscarf and has thereby been a source of inspiration for other women. I call on the Iranian Government to release her and all other detained women’s rights activists. Human and civil rights obligations must be respected.
Iranian women’s rights activist Saba Kord Afshari is part of the protest movement against the compulsory wearing of headscarves in Iran. She took part in the campaign “White Wednesdays – my secret freedom”, which encourages young women to post their photos without headscarves in social media. In August 2018, Saba Kord Afshari was arrested for the first time after participating in a peaceful demonstration and sentenced to one year in prison for “disturbing public order”. She was released in February 2019.
In early June 2019, Saba Kord Afshari was arrested again and later sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment by a revolutionary court in Tehran for “inciting and encouraging depravity and prostitution”, “illegal assembly” and “propaganda against the regime”. In November 2019, a court of appeal acquitted Ms Kord Afshari of some of these charges, reducing the prison sentence to nine years.
According to media reports, Saba Kord Afshari’s sentence was again increased to 24 years without further trial, of which, under Iranian law, she would have to serve 15 years.